An update on the extension of the ‘look-back’ window in New York City

In August 2019, adult victims of childhood sexual abuse were given a year-long window of opportunity to seek justice for their suffering. The ‘look-back window’ suspended the statute of limitations under the Child Victims Act to allow survivors to file their case between 14 August 2019 and 14 August 2020. This window was later extended by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing survivors to file suit for historic claims of abuse under the Child Victims Act until 14 August 2021. Prior to the look-back window, under the Child Victims Act, victims of abuse had from 1 to 5 years from the date of their 18th birthday to file a suit.

Since the news of the look-back window, other States have taken a similar approach including New Jersey, who provided a two year window for survivors, and California who permitted a three year window. These are just two examples of fifteen states who have amended their laws on limitation when it comes to claims arising out of historic sexual abuse. Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic is currently a key factor being taken into account when making decisions on limitation, it is without doubt that these changes were also influenced by the Me Too movement and the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.

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